South Bronx Community Honors Longtime Advocate
A community advocate from the South Bronx was honored Tuesday during a street renaming ceremony in the very neighborhood she fought to save. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
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It was a mixture of clapping and crying as third avenue at 156th street was renamed Yolanda Garcia way Tuesday.
"There is not enough words to express how I feel today," said Anna Vincenty, Nos Quedamos.
Community activist Yolanda Garcia was a fierce advocate for rebuilding the South Bronx, particularly the Melrose area. During the 70's and 80's burnt out buildings and vacant lots plagued the neighborhood. When city plans to demolish much of the area surfaced, Yolanda refused to leave. She started the group Nos Quedamos which means "we stay".
"If you took her on, you understood that you were in a fight. Even some community activists did not want these programs to go forward, but she fought hard to make sure that it happened. Now everyone tells you that they were on board with her, but there were times everyone was not on board but she showed them the way," said Congressman Jose Serrano.
Garcia passed away four years ago, but Nos Quedamos says over the last 17 years it has helped to build more than 2,000 housing units in the area. Many other groups are building here now as the population grows.
"It took that one woman to help shake, rattle and roll this community, of course with the help of the whole community. But she is the one who started this," said Vincenty.
"Through her work, our community is such an incredible place that now everyone wants to live. She decided to launch her efforts to save the Melrose section of the Bronx," said Bronx Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo.
Yolanda Garcia's family and friends held the street renaming ceremony on the anniversary of her death. They say this was the best way to honor her and all that she accomplished.
"My mother used to always tell me that the universe was your oyster, you just have to envision what you want and conquer it. This is it. There's nothing better than this. This is the legacy," said Yolanda Garcia.
It's a South Bronx legacy, they say has been improved because of the work of Yolanda Garcia.